Homeland Security:

A Risk Management Approach Can Guide Preparedness Efforts

GAO-02-208T: Published: Oct 31, 2001. Publicly Released: Oct 31, 2001.

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Raymond J. Decker
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Because of the terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11 and the subsequent appearance of letters containing anthrax, terrorism rose to the top of the national agenda. The Attorney General has indicated that the country needs to be prepared for still more terrorist incidents. The Department of Justice is working with state and local governments to complete risk management tools for the domestic preparedness program. However, the FBI told GAO that these will be limited to threat assessments only and will not include other aspects of risk management that GAO advocates. Despite these inconclusive results, the federal government can benefit from risk management. Risk management is a systematic and analytic process to consider the likelihood that a threat will endanger an asset and to identify actions that reduce the risk and mitigate the consequences of an attack. An effective risk management approach includes a threat assessment, a vulnerability assessment, and a criticality assessment. Such an approach could help the nation prepare against threats it faces and help better target finite resources to areas of highest priority.

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